Glee's Kevin McHale Reveals Surprising Way He Learned Lea Michele & Cory Monteith Were Dating IRL

Glee's Kevin McHale just spilled the tea on how he found out his costars Cory Monteith and Lea Michele had brought their onscreen love off-camera.

By Hayley Santaflorentina Dec 21, 2023 5:20 PMTags
Watch: Lea Michele Honors Cory Monteith 10 Years After Death

Kevin McHale once found himself accidentally a part of something special. 

The Glee alum recently revealed some new details behind the picture that launched a thousand rumors—that photo of Lea Michele and Cory Monteith looking extra cozy on the show's set. As it turns out, not only was the photo staged, but there was more to the story than even he realized at the time.

"I was like, 'I'm sitting across the room, what if I pretend to take a picture of Jenna? And in the background, the very edge of frame are Cory and Lea being a little extra snuggly,'" he revealed during the Dec. 21 episode of his And That's What You REALLY Missed podcast with fellow cast member Jenna Ushkowitz. And I said, 'I'll put it up and wait a little bit, for people to notice and then I'll delete it, like  I did something wrong.'"

It was an ultimately successful attempt to, as he put it, "Get rumors started that Cory and Lea are dating, and then people will watch the show and then we'll get to make more seasons of it."

20 Shocking Glee Secrets Revealed

And as the 35-year-old explained, once Lea said she was game, they staged the photo and Kevin shared it to X, then Twitter, reading the many responses to the photo and deleting it upon the first mention of the cozy looking pair in the edge of frame.

Rick Kern / Contributor & Mark Sullivan / Contributor (Getty Images)

"And then it got picked up," Kevin remembered, "and it was all over the entertainment sites."

But while the actor believed he had staged a relationship, in reality the pair—who ended up dating for over a year before Cory's untimely death in 2013—were already singing a love song when the photo was taken. 

"Then in January was the SAG Awards," Kevin continued, "and we were at the after-party and Lea sits me down and she's like, 'Did you know, we had actually started dating then?'"

Yes, in a Glee-worthy twist, it turns out Lea and Cory's onscreen love as Rachel and Finn had already made it to real life when the photo was taken.

In the years since Cory's passing—the anniversary of which the Funny Girl alum often pays tribute to on social media—Lea has tied the knot with Zandy Reich, with whom she shares 2-year-old son Ever

And for more on the Glee alum's IRL love lives, keep reading. 

Lea Michele

Much like her driven alter ego Rachel Berry, Michele is living out her happy ending. Though a Tony is still in the offing (she is starring in Broadway's Funny Girl), she found her partner in clothing brand owner Zandy Reich and they've since made their duet a trio.

A little more than a year after their March 2019 Napa vows (and a few months after several of her co-stars alleged she was difficult to work with), she welcomed son Ever in August 2020. 

"Motherhood is beautiful," she previously shared, "it's intense, it's hard. I's the greatest thing I've ever done."

And yes, she does know how to read.

Chris Colfer

Now an accomplished author, having published some 16 books, the 32-year-old has kept his personal love story largely to himself. First spotted with actor-producer Will Sherrod at the 2013 Screen Actors Guild Awards, he confirmed he did, in fact, have a boyfriend during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live the following year. And, as with any other longtime couplings, Sherrod makes the occasional cameo on his partner's Instagram. 

Jenna Ushkowitz

Together since meeting through a dating app in June 2018 (their successful first date lasted nearly seven hours), the 37-year-old brought her love David Stanley to be a guest on her and Kevin McHale's Showmance podcast in late 2019.

"He's not your fiancé?" McHale teased of the California native, who works in politics and non-profits, pointing out their trip to Italy's Amalfi Coast as an ideal proposal spot. "Not yet, babe." 

However, the time did come in August 2020 when he finally got down on one knee and presented Ushkowitz with a massive sparkler. "Yes," she gushed on Instagram, "a million times, yes." In June 2022, Jenna announced they welcomed a baby girl named Emma.

Kevin McHale

Having come out in April 2018, the actor and podcaster insists he was never really hiding his sexuality. "If somebody was a big fan and following everything I was doing [on social media], like the people I interact with on Twitter on a daily basis," he shared, "I think there was zero surprise. People knew."

His romance with actor Austin P. McKenzie, however, "I wanted to protect." (The two met while filming the 2017 miniseries When We Rise, a careful friendship eventually developing into more.) Still, it can be hard to hide their obvious affection both on Showmance and social media. As the 34-year-old captioned a PDA 'gram: "We're gross." 

Jane Lynch

"Finding love in my 50s has been a blessing," the Emmy winner told Parade in 2019 of reuniting with partner Jennifer Cheyne a few years earlier.

Together in the early 2000s—before she donned Coach Sue Sylvester's track suits and enjoyed a brief marriage to psychologist Lara Embry—"We broke up and then reconnected a decade later and just fell back together so easily and lovingly," the 62-year-old said of life with the Cheyne and their rescue dogs. "We're very different people now—we don't have the same insecurities we used to have. We live very peacefully. We have our own routines and separate spaces to retreat to within our home, but then we'll have coffee together in the morning and meet for a meal."

Becca Tobin

"You'll never, ever see a post where I say, 'I'm so lucky to marry my best friend'—any of that garbage. It makes my stomach turn," the straight-shooter (i.e. cheerleader Kitty Wilde) told Lady Gang cohosts Keltie Knight and Jac Vanek ahead of her 2016 wedding to entrepreneur Zach Martin. (Lynch officiated the affair attended by Michele, Ushkowitz and McHale.)

But, the indeed lucky couple made their most exciting announcement yet: The two welcomed a baby boy named Rutherford "Ford" Thomas Martin via surrogate in February 2022.

Matthew Morrison

Tthe actor is still, uh, reveling in life with son Revel James Makai Morrison and wife Renee Puente. "You know I have a lot of love for a lot of people but I never experienced the love I have for my son," the Disney Dreamin' with Matthew Morrison artist told E! News in early 2020. "It's one of a kind and it's tested constantly but it's enduring and it's so strong and the bond we have is so special and I'm absolutely loving this journey." 

By 2021, they added another to their brood: daughter Phoenix Monroe Morrison. As Morrison said at the time, "Our family is now complete."

Heather Morris

At the height of her fame as dancer Brittany S. Pierce in 2011, the 26-year-old made a shocking confession to Fitness about University of Louisiana at Lafayette baseball player Taylor Hubbell: "I want to marry him so bad. That's what I really care about. I want to marry Taylor and have kids with him. I love acting, but if it affects my relationship, then I won't continue doing it."

Nearly a decade on, she's sacrificed neither, continuing to book gigs and raising sons Elijah and Owen with now-husband Hubbell. 

Darren Criss

"I will say this: I dragged my feet," the Golden Globe winner confessed to People about finally marrying partner of a decade, writer-producer Mia Swier in 2019. "But, we were together for a long time before. By that point in our lives, it was a validation and sharing of our life and existence. In many ways, it's not been a change at all."

The biggest shift has been his view on weddings. Unconvinced their New Orleans vows would be the best day of his life—"I was like, really? Because I've had some really good nights—and days, okay?"—he now says the "magical experience," er, took the cake: "If I could, I'd get married every year for the rest of my life."

And last April, another perfect day came with the arrival of their first baby, Bluesy Belle Criss.


Harry Shum Jr.

A little more than three years after he married actress Shelby Rabara, a sometimes Glee guest star, in Costa Rica (fellow show alum McHale, Ushkowitz and Amber Riley were on hand), the star of Freeform's Shadowhunters became a dad to daughter Xia in March 2019.

And while he told E! News months earlier he was thrilled for every part of fatherhood, one step in particularly excited him: "I can't wait to dress her up. I always see those cool shoes. These shoes are so little and they're so small. They're so light. It's weird, I look at those shoes and I'm like, please everyone give me all the shoes so I can give her these cool shoes to have."

Melissa Benoist

Hopeful Marley Rose seems to have gotten her storybook ending. The 34-year-old wed Supergirl costar Chris Wood at a Sept. 2019 ceremony in Ojai, Calif. Six months later, there was even more happy news to celebrate for the star, who shared in Nov. 2019 her terrifying experience with domestic violence in a prior relationship (she did not name an alleged abuser).

"A non-canine child is coming to our family very soon!!!" Benoist told her Instagram followers. "@christophrwood has always been an old dad by nature but now he's going to be a real one." Their family became that much more super in Sept. 2020 when they welcomed son Huxley Robert Wood.

Jayma Mays

Every bit as dedicated as guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury, the actress returned to work (filming the crime-documentary spoof show Trial & Error) just two weeks after having son Jude Jones with husband Adam Campbell in August 2016.

With both she and the British actor committed to jobs, "The first month for me was absolutely nuts," the 43-year-old shared with People. "Our parents, both sets, graciously came out and stayed with us for about six to eight weeks to get us on our feet before we had extra help come in. But it was nuts."

Dot-Marie Jones

While still appearing as McKinley High's beloved Coach Beiste, the 59-year-old actress put on a show of her own in December 2013. Inviting friends and loved ones to their L.A. home for a holiday party, she and girlfriend Bridgett Casteen (engaged two months earlier at Disneyland) surprised guests with news they were actually attending a wedding.

A decade on, the retired athlete and actress is still Jones' forever crush. As she once posted on Instagram, "I LOVE YOU WHOLE HEARTEDLY BABE."

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